Tag Archive for volleyball research

Possible paths for volleyball research

The subject of the influence of a coach’s decisions on match outcomes is now a talking point in coaching circles. That wasn’t always the case in the past. For many years the assumption was that coaching interventions (timeouts, subs, etc.) without doubt influence outcomes. This is the coaching mythology. That mythology is being challenged by the research.

Examples of this come from Mark Lebedew. He did a basic study based on the question of whether timeouts in any way influence the likelihood of the server missing their serve. In other words, are servers more likely to miss after a timeout. This is believed by many coaches. It very likely is influenced by confirmation bias, though.

A while back Mark also wrote about some research into whether timeouts impact the next point. That piece was was based on some findings from basketball which suggest they are actually counterproductive. Not content to stop there, Mark followed up with additional posts here, here, here, here, here, and here. The timeout subject was also tackled by a researcher in a presentation at the 2016 AVCA convention.

This research is definitely a good start. That’s all it is for the moment, though. I’d like to go down some other research paths with respect to volleyball. What do you think? What question(s) do you have that can be addressed by analyzing available data?

The importance of different skills in volleyball

There’s an academic paper worth having a look at titled Skill Importance in Women’s Volleyball. It is based on analysis of data from the 2006 BYU Women’s team and looks at most of the primary skills involved in volleyball. I was able to get hold of it as part of the discussion/debate surrounding the It’s best to set the ball tight post from last week (it also came up in the discussion of defense around the What’s the objective of defense in volleyball? post). This is apparently the analysis which is the basis for the USA teams favoring sets off the net – and passes as well.

Be warned, the paper being academic, it’s quite technical in many ways. One of the more interesting aspects of it is the list of references, which includes several evaluations of skills from different volleyball competitions.

It is important to understand that academic analysis of this nature can be quite reliant on the methodologies involved and how the data is collected and prepared. I should know. I’m in the middle of just that kind of thing now working on my PhD. Also, this study includes only one team in one season. As such, it may be picking up things which are specific to that squad (idiosyncratic).

Short-coming aside, it is always of value to understand the parts of the game which are the most important in your team’s success.